So, here’s the schedule:
Thursday, 1100h – Fly from Sydney to the Gold Coast (normal flight time: 70 minutes)
Thursday - Pack luggage for 3 weeks in Europe
Friday, 1200h – Depart Brisbane to Amsterdam
Then there’s the reality:
Wednesday, 0900h – Sydney Airport closes all but one runway, due to high winds
Wednesday, 1000h – Most departures cancelled, I get 'bumped' to Thursday evening
Wednesday, 1800h – High winds persist, my flight delayed by 4 hours
Thursday, 0800h – High winds persist, my flight is cancelled. Find alternative transport!
Urgent question: How do I make Friday’s flight to Europe?
Train? No, booked out! Greyhound? No, booked out!
So I drive, right? Guess what? No rental cars available at Sydney Airport.
My sincere thanks to Volkswagen Australia, who on hearing of my plight make available a Volkswagen Passat Alltrack.
So at 1030h, I head north through Sydney’s traffic snarls and late morning rush hour congestion. It takes almost two hours to clear Sydney’s northern outskirts, so it will be low flying for maybe 9-10 hours, so long as there’s no delays, like road construction or traffic accidents.
However, Australia’s Pacific Highway, the main coastal trunk route from Sydney to Brisbane, is now littered with speed cameras, and patrolling Plods in pursuit cars.
Setting the cruise control for 104km/h I settle in for a long spell piloting the Passat to points north.
At 1900h Thursday I finally pull into my driveway, literally, fresh as a daisy.
Reflecting on the long drive, I conclude the Passat Alltrack was an ideal car for the job. I stopped once for food, but was able to comfortably remain behind the wheel as the kilometres slipped by.
And, here’s the stats:
870 kilometres (541 miles), 8 hours and 30 minutes elapsed, and diesel tank still a quarter full, meaning fuel economy of 7.1 L/100k (40.2 mpg), and average speed of 102.4 km/h (63.6 mph).
To achieve such a painless journey required four major factors:
Comfortable driving position and seats
Totally linear throttle response and broad torque spread
Highly efficient fuel consumption
Precision handling and superbly balanced chassis control
The Passat Alltrack delivered on all four counts. The seats were brilliant, the steering is direct with wonderful feedback, and the turbocharged 2.0L diesel delivered its output across a very flat torque curve.
The handling, aided by the AWD system, is beautifully resolved.
The chassis dynamics are excellent, and the secondary ride is well-controlled.
Of course, the slightly raised ride height, and the 4Motion system also endows the Alltrack with some modest off-road abilities as well.
Because of this inherent versatility, I suggest VWAG should just import the Alltrack, as a wagon variant for the Passat range in Australia.
I also had the benefit of Apple CarPlay, so I could keep my hands on the wheel, and execute tasks by voice control.
So, my conclusion is that for long distance travel, for one or a family, the Passat Alltrack has to rate high in consideration.
Thanks to a clear road, and the ability to maintain a comfortable (and legal) cruising speed, I was able to catch my Singapore Airlines flight to Changi with no worries.
Thanks Volkswagen – the team, and the car, delivered everything I needed.